Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, did not sack Nsima Ekere as the managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an aide to the president has said.
The aide, Ita Enang, said Mr Ekere, who is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, had resigned his appointment with the NDDC before its board was dissolved by Mr Buhari.
Mr Enang, a former senator, is a special adviser to the president on national assembly matters (Senate).
Mr Enang made the clarification on Thursday when he squared off in a live radio debate on Inspiration FM 105.9, Uyo, with the Commissioner of Works in Akwa Ibom, Ephraim Inyang.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom, in an attempt to make political capital from the issue, has been insisting that Mr Ekere was sacked from the NDDC.
The works commissioner, Mr Inyang, was at the debate to reiterate this viewpoint, among other campaign issues.
Before now, Mr Ekere had made his resignation letter public with the hope it would put an end to the controversy.
“I think he (Mr Inyang) is not having the fact correct or he is deliberately not telling the truth,” Mr Enang said at the heat of the debate.
“The NDDC board is always for four years, and if a person is appointed into that board and he does not complete his tenure for any reason, the successor to that office would take the office for the remaining tenure.
“You remember that Sir Dan-Abia was the managing director of the NDDC. After two years, when this government came in, he completed two years.
“The board was dissolved and another board was constituted with another Akwa Ibom son as a successor to complete the term of Akwa Ibom as managing director. So, Nsima Ekere was brought in to complete that term.
“As a matter of fact, that board lived a little more than two months beyond its time.
“Nsima Ekere was not sacked; he completed the term and resigned. And of course, the law says if you have to contest an election, you must resign at least 30 days to the day of the election. Nsima is the candidate of the APC, so he had to resign about 38 days to the day of the election.
“Having resigned, the president looked and saw that the board has completed the remaining two years of the Dan-Abia-led board, and they had to dissolve the board.
“And since the Senate is on vacation for elections, they could not have kept a vacuum, and now appointed interim management made up of acting managing director, acting executive director, finance, and acting executive director of projects,” Mr Enang said.